ESG Grey Insight Card

London's Oxford Street comes back with a vengeance in December

30 January 2023
30 january 2023

Customers flocked to London’s Oxford Street in December making it the only major UK high street to see an increase in footfall last month, up 20% from the previous month.

According to RSM UK’s analysis of the latest data from Datscha which tracks key high streets, UK footfall dropped 30% last month. The most significant decreases were in Leeds, which saw footfall drop by more than half (55%), Nottingham (down 49%) and Glasgow (down 48%).

UK footfall in December was nearly half pre-pandemic levels in December 2019 (down 48%) and trailed behind the same period in 2021 (down 25%).

Jacqui Baker, partner and head of retail at RSM UK and chair of ICAEW’s Retail Advisory Group, said: ‘London might have been slower in getting back up on its feet than other cities post-lockdown, but it came back with a vengeance in December, with a positive uptick in footfall whilst all other major UK cities saw a decrease. The combination of more workers returning to the office, shopping in preparation for the party season and socialising gave footfall on the capital’s high street a welcome boost.

‘However, unfortunately for retailers the industrial strikes throughout December will have dampened people’s spirits to be able to get out and about across many other UK cities, as demonstrated by the mostly bleak picture for footfall. Trading time for retailers in December is already squeezed due to the Christmas holidays, and consumers tended to focus on socialising rather than visiting the high street. 

‘Apart from in London, December’s footfall figures are unlikely to have filled retailers with confidence, as they look ahead to a nail biting first quarter in 2023. There have been some winners on the high street in the festive period and the hope is the recent drops in energy prices continue, easing the cost-of-living crisis later on in the year and in turn, boosting consumer confidence, meaning there’s still everything to play for in the sector.